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Partners of UK Residents

This section explains how to apply for entry clearance or permission of residency in the UK as a partner of a current resident or somebody entering the country under another category.

This section explains methods of application for entry clearance or permission of residency within the UK as a partner of a current resident, of either a permanent or temporary nature, or as a partner of somebody else entering under another category. The section also details what to do if your relationship with a UK resident breaks down when you are settled within the country due to them.

This information only covers people originating from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Partners of British citizens and people settled within the UK

Those in a relationship with a person settled within the UK, or those making an application to settle within the UK; are eligible to apply for authorisation to gain entry clearance or remain within the UK, with view to settle as their:

  • Wife, husband or civil partner
  • fiance(e) or proposed civil partner
  • unmarried/same-sex partner

Upon successful application as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner, permission of residency will be granted for up to 27 months, or alternatively the applicant is eligible to remain within the UK for a further two years if already residing within the UK upon application. Prior to the closing period of the authorised time frame, application to settle permanently can be made available, also known as 'indefinite leave to remain' within the UK, as a partner.

Upon the successful application of a fiance(e) or proposed civil partner, permission can be granted for entry clearance and residency for six months, whilst the marriage, or registration of civil partnership takes place. Applications to switch into the category of partner, wife, husband or civil partner can be made available.

British citizens, or those settled within the UK, in a relationship with a person who’s right to remain or enter the UK depends upon that association through one of the above categories; are obligated to inform the authorities immediately in the event of the relationship breaking down, prior to being granted permission to settle within the United Kingdom.

Permission will not be granted to enter or remain within the UK under any of the above categories in the instance that your husband, wife or partner is aged under 21 on the date of arrival within the UK, or the pre-arranged date of approval.

For husbands, wives or partners serving member of HM Forces, 18 as opposed to 21.

Partners of those with temporary entry clearance or UK residency as a worker or a student

Any applications for authorisation of entry clearance, to remain within the UK as the partner of an authorised resident migrant, or; of a migrant in application for employment permission within the UK, visit the employment within the UK section, selecting the applicable work category, and viewing the rights of dependants.

Applying for indefinite leave to remain

This section covers ways of which to apply for authorisation of permanent settlement within the UK, also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'; as the husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner of a British citizen or other individual currently settled within the United Kingdom.

Husbands, wives and civil partners

Applications are available for permanent residency within the UK as a husband, wife or civil partner in the instance of:

  • express permission being given in advance to enter or remain within the UK as a husband, wife or civil partner, after the completion of the two year period within the category
  • the applicant remaining the husband, wife or civil partner of the specified person, long after granted residency, proving the marriage or civil partnership is existing and genuine
  • the applicant and the partner intending to reside together permanently as husband and wife, or civil partners
  • proof of adequate accommodation suitable for both the applicant and dependants, additional to finances to support costs without requiring public funds
  • proof that both the applicant and the dependant is able to support themselves and any dependants without requiring public funds

Those applicants under 65 years of age must have sufficient English language skills, and knowledge of life within the UK.

Unmarried/same-sex partners

Unmarried/same-sex partners are eligible to apply for permission to live permanently within the UK if:

  • a period of two years have been completed meeting the criteria within the category, authorising permission to enter or remain within the UK as an unmarried/same-sex partner
  • the applicant is still in relations with the same unmarried/same-sex partner of the person specified within the granted permission to enter or remain, and that the relationship is existing and genuine
  • that both the applicant and their partner intend to reside together permanently as partners
  • that both the applicant and their partner have access to adequate accommodation, where both parties and any dependants are able to reside without requiring public funds
  • both parties are able to support themselves additionally to any dependants without requiring public funds

Those applicants under 65 years of age must have sufficient English language skills, and knowledge of life within the UK.

Immigration rules on permanent settlement

Time spent outside the UK

The Immigration Rules do not specify that applicants must have been residing within the UK for the entire two years of authorised stay as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner.

Applications for settlement will be judged upon their merits, taking into account;

  • reasons for travel
  • the duration of absences; and
  • details regarding the applicants travel accommodation with their partner outside of the UK.  

Limited time abroad in connection with employment shall not count against a case.

Time spent externally to the United Kingdom does not affect applications for British citizenship. In the instance of a visitor wishing to be naturalised as the husband, wife or civil partner of a British citizen, proof must be provided of UK residency for a minimum of three years, the current 'residential qualifying period'. Additionally proof is required demonstrating that the applicant has spent no more than 270 days outside of the UK during the three years. Similarly the applicant must not have spent an excess of 90 days externally to the UK within the previous 12 months out of the specified three-year period.

Discretion may be exercised within some cases to allow absences additional to that of the normal limits within reason. Additional requirements are in place for those wanting to be naturalised and you are not husband, wife or civil partner, however there is an enforced limit upon the amount of time that is authorised outside of the UK.

Applying to settle within the UK upon delayed UK entry

In the instance that an applicant has been granted authorised entry to the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner; but is then delayed in their travel to the UK by anything up to three months, applications can then be made for UK residency permanently, prior to the expiry of entry clearance permission. Providing the criteria has been met, applications can be placed on hold until applicants have completed their two-year qualifying period within the UK.

When an applicant has been permitted entry to the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried/same-sex partner, and is then delayed in their travel to the UK by anything up to three months, applications must be made for an additional probationary period of two years. Applications can be made through the UK Visas and Immigration website. Upon receiving an extension to a probationary period, meeting any additional criteria of settlement rules, applicants will be eligible for application of settlement at the end of the completed probation period.

UK fiancé(e) and proposed civil partner visas

This section covers legal channels authorising permission of entry clearance, or residence for the United Kingdom for those who are engaged to be married to, or are a proposed civil partner of a person settled within the United Kingdom.

English language requirement for partners

New legislation brought in for those wanting to gain entry clearance or reside within the United Kingdom as a partner of a British citizen or a person settled within the UK, is now required to be able to speak and understand English to a passable degree, demonstrating an ability to communicate with fellow residence and contribute to society.

Applications should be made to this category if the applicant wishes to settle permanently within the UK post the marriage or civil partnership procedure. Any couples wishing to visit the United Kingdom with only intent of marriage or civil partnership, applications should be made as a visitor under this category.

Applicants outside of the UK

Any applicants subject to immigration control, wishing to gain entry clearance or residency under this category, must have a fiance(e) or proposed civil partner who is currently living within the UK and settled, or alternatively; a fiance(e) or proposed civil partner who is returning to the UK with the applicant, with intentions to reside permanently.

Both the applicant and their fiance(e) or proposed civil partner must be 21 years of age or above, or in the instance that either of the couple being a serving member of HM Forces, an age restriction of 18 years applies. Supplementary to the standard age restrictions applicants must be able to demonstrate that they plan to:

  • form a marriage or civil partnership within an acceptable time frame; ordinarily around 6 months
  • reside permanently together post marriage or registering of civil partnership
  • have already met each other prior to the application
  • obtain a suitable place of residents for the applicant and the fiance(e) or proposed civil partner to reside up until the marriage or registering of the civil partnership; the accommodation must be obtainable without any support from public funds
  • fully finance the necessary costs without requiring support from public funds.

Clarification of authorisation must be principally obtained prior to entry, this is advised regardless of which national country the applicant currently holds citizenship to, and whether it is regulatory for a entrant to require a visa upon entry.

The expressed permission granted, known as 'entry clearance', takes the form of a visa or entry clearance certificate.  In order to acquire entry clearance, applications should be made within the country where the applicant resides prior to the clearance application.

Upon authorisation to the UK within the category of fiance(e) or proposed civil partner, permission of residency will be granted for 6 months. Employment is not permitted during this time, and this is not the case in the respect of visitors for marriage or civil partnership.

Post marriage or registering of a civil partnership, applications for residency can be made as the husband, wife or civil partner of a settled person, as apposed to fiance(e) or proposed civil partner. Upon a successful application, permission will be granted to reside and seek employment within the United Kingdom for up to 2 years. Upon the near expiry of the allocated 2 year period, applications can be made to settle permanently if the applicant is still married or civil partnered, and still intend to reside together permanently.

Applications for those already within the UK

If an applicant is already residing within the UK, with temporary authorisation to stay within a different immigration category, category switching is not permitted.

Switching to the category of husband, wife or civil partner is only permitted in the instance of marriage or registered civil partnership of persons already residing within the UK under this category.

If your relationship ends

This section provides legal guidance and details of obligations of British citizens or persons settled within the UK, at the end of a relationship with someone currently under permission to enter or remain within the UK as their partner.

In the instance of a marriage, civil partnership or other relationship permanent break down, at a time where the partner has limited permission to remain within the UK, official notification needs to be sent to UK Visas and Immigration.

This is only applicable during the two-year probationary period prior to authorised application of permanent residence.

In any notification the information required will include the partner's full name, as is specified on their passport, their date of birth, and if known their entry clearance or UK Visas and Immigration reference number.

In some instances the permission of residence for the person reported may be curtailed (cancelled). This is not instantaneously the case however; exceptions may be made for any of the following cases:

  • If the basis of the person's stay has changed
  • in the instance of qualification under another category
  • if there is any other reasoning of a compassionate or relevant nature

If it is possible that a legitimate argument could be formed through any of the above expressed routes, consequentially justifying why it would not be appropriate to curtail their stay, there could be a resulting leniency on their situation.

In the instance of notifying the authorities of a relationship break down, consideration will primarily be made regarding the appropriateness of further residency, with possible view to curtail the former partner's permission to stay. Prior to any action being taken, permission will be requested for the use of the information given.

Upon a decision of curtail there is a right to appeal, indicating that they could remain within the UK for some time prior to any consideration of removal.

If an informant feels that they are at any risk of harm from their former partner, it is advised that they contact the police to consider applying to a court for an injunction. For any further advice regarding the application for an injunction, the National Centre for Domestic Violence is available via the call line offering free advice on 08709 220704 (24 hours per day).


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